What Is a Chinese Raffle?

A Chinese raffle is a raffle event in which participants bid for multiple prizes by dropping one or more tickets into a container next to each prize. These events, also referred to as Chinese auctions, have been popular in the United States since the 1960s.

Why these raffles are considered Chinese is unclear, but they are mostly referred to as basket auctions or penny socials to avoid offense. Chinese raffles are typically used as fundraising events by organizations, such as schools and churches. Prizes can range from small, inexpensive items to luxury goods, such as jewelry, fine art and vacation packages.